Travel between South Africa's most cosmopolitan city and the unique semi-coastal wilderness of Addo Elephant National Park.
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Day 1 - 10: Private African Sky Guide and Vehicle.
Guests will be met on arrival at Cape Town International Airport or any other location of their choice in Cape Town, from where a day is spent exploring one of the world's most beautiful cities. Table Mountain, arguably the most famous natural landmark in Africa is first on the agenda. From Table Mountain, one of the most impressive views of the world can be enjoyed. We also visit the world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The garden is home to 4 000 of the 18 000 species of flora which are found in South Africa and creates a most remarkable display. At the memorial to Cecil John Rhodes, sweeping views of the entire Cape Flats can be enjoyed and this is where we end an unforgettable day.
The spectacular Chapman's Peak drive, cut into the 650m high Chapman's Peak leads the tour through the town of Noordhoek to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. A botanical and scenic delight, the reserve is home to several antelope species as well as a great diversity of flowering plants and birds. A highlight is sure to be the walk to the edge of Cape Point, where it is said the stormy waters of the Atlantic are met by the calming influence of the Indian Ocean. This Cape, which has played such a central role in the tales and legends of the ocean, was and remains an important landmark.
The tour traces False Bay on the way back to Cape Town and includes a visit to Boulders Beach, an attractive secluded haven which comprises a tumble of huge round rocks on a sandy shore. The boulders are ideal vantage points for observing the colony of mainland-based African penguins from.
Located in one of the most picturesque valleys of the Cape, the town of Franschhoek owes its existence to the first French settlers who worked the Drakenstein Valley. Some time is devoted to exploring the town and its memorial to the French Huguenots, set in a lovely garden, before visiting three of the fine wine estates in the valley, which are renowned internationally for the exceptional quality of wines. All the noble cultivars and classic styles are on display, from superb whites such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Semillon and Chenin Blanc to the rich reds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Merlot. During the late afternoon, the tour makes its way back to Cape Town.
Departing Cape Town, the tour traces the coast from Gordon's Bay, passing through the settlements of Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay with the imposing Hottentots-Holland Mountains to your left. En-route several stops are made at vantage points from where the ‘Southern Right Whale’ may potentially be spotted. These whales frequent the waters along South Africa's southern coastline during the months of June to November, traveling approximately 2000 km's from the Southern Ocean to give birth in secluded bays along our shores. A quick stop is also made at the Penguin Nature Reserve at Betty’s Bay before passing Arabella Estate as we head to the seaside village of Hermanus.
Spotting these graceful mammals regally splashing about is a most rewarding experience. Lunch is enjoyed in Hermanus with its sweeping views of Walker Bay, said to be the best place along the entire coast from which to do whale watching. From Hermanus the road travels inland, offering guest’s potential sightings of South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane. These tall-standing birds are endangered and are very special to the Xhosa people, who call it ‘Indwe’. When a man distinguished himself by deeds of valor, he was often decorated by a chief and presented with the feathers of this bird. We make our way towards Bredasdorp, a small town established around Dutch Reformed Church in 1838. Besides the sheep farming industry, the town also boasts other agricultural activities including wheat, milk, and indigenous fynbos cultivation. The village of Arniston takes its name from a tragic shipwreck that occurred in these treacherous waters in 1815 and is situated a stone’s throw from the southern tip of Africa. The coastline surrounding Arniston is noted for its bizarre marine erosions of which the most famous is the Waenhuiskrans, an enormous cavern eroded from the cliffs and within walking distance of the Arniston Hotel. After visiting this natural phenomenon we retire for the evening.
After breakfast, your tour makes its way to Cape Agulhas, the southern-most tip of the African continent. Cape Agulhas or the Cape of Needles, because of the many rocks and reefs in the area, was so named by the Portuguese as ‘Cabo das Agulhas’ around the year 1500. Cape Agulhas is the geographical southern tip of the African continent and official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Later we’ll make our way inland to Swellendam, once considered the very eastern extremity of the Colony, beyond which lay a wild and unexplored Africa. Many notable explorers and travelers including François Le Vaillant, Lady Anne Barnard, William John Burchell, and Thomas William Bowler passed through here. We’ll pay a visit to The Drostdy Museum which once housed the magistracy of the area. Farther to the east, Mossel Bay during the boom years of ostrich farming was a major export port of products to both Europe and the USA. We’ll visit the Bartholomew Dias Museum, which marks the historical landing point of Dias in 1488 and where the 500-yr old post office tree is located. The Maritime Museum houses a replica of the caravel on which Dias arrived. After exploring the Museum we'll continue on to George and Knysna, considered by many to be the jewel of the Garden Route. The town is nestled between hills covered with dense indigenous forest and a large coastal lagoon. The nearby blue waters of the Indian Ocean are but a stone's throw away. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
The Outeniqua Mountains form the barrier which divides the semi-arid interior from the lush coastal plains of the Garden Route. The tour crosses this barrier via the Outeniqua Pass to Oudtshoorn, the ostrich capital of the world. The town is located in the great valley known as the Little Karoo, with the Langeberge and Outeniqua ranges forming its boundary to the east and the Swartberg Mountains forming its western boundary. Your first stop is the Cango Caves, which lie in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains. The great cave system is amongst the world’s largest and is blessed with elaborate dripstone formations, the highest of which stands 12.6m tall. The caves extend to about 1600m into the limestone-rich hills and are a truly an impressive sight. Lunch is followed by a short drive to an ostrich farm where the focus is on the farming of the world's largest birds. Great fortunes were built in the heyday of the industry when the feathers where prized fashion accessories. Today the meat, with its low-fat content, is sought after in a world ever more preoccupied with healthy living, and the leather is a prized raw material in the production of fashion accessories. The brave can even endeavor an ostrich ride before we make our way back to the overnight destination.
Your tour departs Knysna early morning and makes its way through the Tsitsikamma National Park where a stop is made at the ‘Big Tree’, a Yellowwood giant standing 36.6 meters high and estimated to be around 800 years old. After reaching the ‘friendly city’ of Port Elizabeth, the road turns inland for a forty-minute drive to the Addo Elephant National Park. On arrival guests, will check-in and a late afternoon game drive will be enjoyed under the guidance of your experienced guide.
You’ll enjoy daily game drives for the duration of your stay in the Addo National Park. The finer details, such as daily departure times, length of game drives and the direction they’ll take, will be communicated to you by your private guide. You may also choose to participate in optional activities (booked through reception) if available. Note that some activities require a minimum number before they’re confirmed. Your guide will gladly assist with those arrangements. The original portion of Addo was founded in 1931, in part by Sydney Skaife, to provide sanctuary to the eleven remaining elephants in the region. The park has since proved very successful and is currently home to more than 450 elephants, 400 cape buffalo, over 48 endangered black rhino and a variety of antelope species. Lion, spotted hyena and cheetah have also been reintroduced to the area. The expansion of the original park to the Woody Cape Nature Reserve means not only that Addo contains five of South Africa’s seven major vegetation zones, but is also one of a few parks to house the so-called ‘Big 7’ - elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, whale, and the great white shark. The expansion also includes St. Croix and Bird Islands, important breeding grounds for gannets and penguins. Bird Island is home to the world's largest breeding colony of gannets - about 120,000 birds - and also hosts the second largest breeding colony of African penguins. The focus is on interpretive game viewing, with your guide enhancing your understanding of the animals through his or her knowledge of the habits and behavior of the different species one might see.
The last morning activity is followed by a late breakfast, after which you're transferred to Port Elizabeth airport for a flight to Cape Town, bringing to an end a memorable South African holiday.
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